A thing or two about sorrow


tears_of_sadness

So I endure all things for the sake of those chosen by God, that they too may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus and its eternal glory. (2 Tim 2:10)

If Job could have known as he sat there in the ashes, bruising his heart on this problem of Providence—that in the trouble that had come upon him he was doing what one man may do to work out the problem for the world, he might again have taken courage. No man lives to himself. Job’s life is but your life and mine written in larger text….So, then, though we may not know what trials wait on any of us, we can believe that, as the days in which Job wrestled with his dark maladies are the only days that make him worth remembrance, and but for which his name had never been written in the book of life, so the days through which we struggle, finding no way, but never losing the light, will be the most significant we are called to live.
—Robert Collyer

Who does not know that our most sorrowful days have been amongst our best? When the face is wreathed in smiles and we trip lightly over meadows bespangled with spring flowers, the heart is often running to waste.

The soul which is always blithe and gay misses the deepest life. It has its reward, and it is satisfied to its measure, though that measure is a very scanty one. But the heart is dwarfed; and the nature, which is capable of the highest heights, the deepest depths, is undeveloped; and life presently burns down to its socket without having known the resonance of the deepest chords of joy.

“Blessed are they that mourn.” Stars shine brightest in the long dark night of winter. The gentians show their fairest bloom amid almost inaccessible heights of snow and ice.

God’s promises seem to wait for the pressure of pain to trample out their richest juice as in a wine-press. Only those who have sorrowed know how tender is the “Man of Sorrows.”
—Selected

Thou hast but little sunshine, but thy long glooms are wisely appointed thee; for perhaps a stretch of summer weather would have made thee as a parched land and barren wilderness. Thy Lord knows best, and He has the clouds and the sun at His disposal.
—Selected

“It is a gray day.” “Yes, but dinna ye see the patch of blue?”
—Scotch Shoemaker

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The God of the Broken Hearted.


As “fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks,” so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalks of suffering.

I found myself this morning having a bit of a “pity party”.
It seems like the past year has been one health problem after another for me. I am the kind of person who has a tendency to put a “happy face” on all my problems and focus on anything else. I put off going to Doctor’s until it’s too late, I don’t ask for help unless it’s urgent and I eventually bottom out somewhere. It’s not a healthy pattern and God usually has to do something to get my attention.
I recently wrote a little bit about my testimony for another blog.  I have never written it down because it’s one of those situations where God made good out of a really bad thing and it’s hard to revisit without having to think about those hard times. Looking back over my life was bittersweet to me, and this morning driving to Church it all came crashing down. I spent most of my morning crying out to God in my office and then in my car. I know God can handle it, it perplexes me why I always wait to unload on Him when he promises to never leave or forsake me. I know there is a reason for everything we go through on our journey home to Heaven, and that God is using those very things to refine us for His glory, but sometimes I guess I need to just pour out my heart to Him and let Him carry the burdens of life for me.
 I included a wonderful article from Grace Gems my J.R. Miller. If for some reason today you are sad, or weary please remember that God has special grace for you today. Lean on Him, trust Him. He has this all under control, He cares for His children.
The God of the broken-hearted

(J. R. Miller, “The Beatitude for the Unsuccessful” 1892)

“The Lord is near the broken-hearted.” Psalm 34:18

The God of the Bible, is the God of the broken-hearted. The world cares little for the broken hearts. Indeed, people oftentimes break hearts by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice, their coldness–and then move on as heedlessly as if they had trodden only on a worm! But God cares. Broken-heartedness attracts Him. The plaint of grief on earth–draws Him down from heaven.

Physicians in their rounds, do not stop at the homes of the well–but of the sick. So it is with God in His movements through this world. It is not to the whole and the well–but to the wounded and stricken, that He comes with sweetest tenderness! Jesus said of His mission: “He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Isaiah 61:1

We look upon trouble as misfortune. We say that the life is being destroyed, which is passing through adversity. But the truth which we find in the Bible, does not so represent suffering. God is a repairer and restorer of the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed–and by His gentle skill makes it whole again, until it grows into fairest beauty. The love, pity, and grace of God, minister sweet blessing of comfort and healing–to restore the broken and wounded hearts of His people.

Much of the most beautiful life in this world, comes out of sorrow. As “fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks,” so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalks of suffering. We see that those who in heaven wear the whitest robes, and sing the loudest songs of victory–are those who have come out of great tribulation. Heaven’s highest places are filling, not from earth’s homes of glad festivity and tearless joy–but from its chambers of pain; its valleys of struggle where the battle is hard; and its scenes of sorrow, where pale cheeks are wet with tears, and where hearts are broken. The God of the Bible–is the God of the bowed down–whom He lifts up into His strength.

God is the God of those who fail. Not that He loves those who stumble and fall, better than those who walk erect without stumbling; but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace–than those who are strong believers. There is a special divine promise, which says, “My divine power is made perfect in weakness.” When we are conscious of our own insufficiency, then we are ready to receive of the divine sufficiency. Thus our very weakness is an element of strength. Our weakness is an empty cup–which God fills with His own strength.

You may think that your weakness unfits you for noble, strong, beautiful living–or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. You wish you could get clear of it. It seems to burden you–an ugly spiritual deformity. But really it is something which–if you give it to Christ–He can transform into a blessing, a source of His power. The friend by your side, whom you envy because he seems so much stronger than you are–does not get so much of Christ’s strength as you do. You are weaker than him–but your weakness draws to you divine power, and makes you strong.

“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

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God is in the hard places


God's Perspective on Suffering
The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death worketh in you.”

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves.
–A. B. Simpson

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The Alluring


narrow gate

James Smith, 1860

The Lord having chosen his people for himself — will bring them to know him, confide in him, and love him. So, when they have backslidden and wandered from him — he will employ means, that his banished ones be not expelled from him. Thus he brought Israel out of Egypt, and consecrated them to himself; and thus he led them out of Babylon, and again set them apart for his praise. These things were types, and show unto us, how the Lord deals with his people now, both at their first conversion, and at their restoration afterwards. How striking are the words of the Lord by his servant Hosea, on this point, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her;” or as the margin reads, “I will speak to her heart.” Hosea 2:14. What will the Lord do?

“I will allure her.” The eye and the heart of God, are upon his people — before they know it, and when they little think of it. He loves them with an everlasting love — therefore, he will draw, or allure them. He will draw them from their . . .
carnal pleasures,
vain pursuits, and
wordily company.

He will secretly persuade them . . .
by a divine operation upon their minds;
or by disappointments, vexations, convictions, distress of soul, and bereavements;
or by discoveries of his glorious grace, the blessedness of his people, or the felicity of Heaven
— to leave the pleasures and pursuits that are carnal — and seek for himself, and spiritual things. He will entice her, or draw her, by the revelation, and exhibition, of Jesus — in his glory, beauty, and exact adaptation to her.

“I will bring her into the wilderness.” Not an uninhabited spot — but what is elsewhere called “the wilderness of the people.” So, that though surrounded by society, the soul feels ALONE — it has an inward persuasion, that it is an isolated being. The allured soul feels that no one is like it — no one ever had such feelings, such fears, such corruptions, such temptations, such doubts. Therefore as Jeremiah says, “Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust — there may yet be hope.”

The believer, like a person in a wilderness, has a painful sense of BARRENNESS. Beneath, there is no green and pleasant verdure — but scorching sands; above, no shower bearing clouds — but a burning sky. All is barren, and tends to barrenness. So the soul finds it — the means of grace are barren; prayer, preaching, and conversation, all are barren. Even the Bible appears to be a barren book.

So the man feels exposed to DANGER — danger from Satan, sin, the world, and death. Danger from the law, and danger even from Christian friends.

There is also a painful sense of DESTITUTION, and the man becomes wearied, bewildered, and exhausted.

This wilderness is a place of INSTRUCTION, here the soul learns many a painful — but important lesson. Here it learns dependence on God, the emptiness and insufficiency of the creature, and the need of a divine agency to carry on the work. It learns that there is no bread but from Heaven, and what comes down appears to be small and unusual; so that with Israel, as we gather and feed on it, we are ready to cry, “Manna,” what is it? what is it?

Here God works wonders, in preserving, supplying, correcting, restoring, and guiding. Here the bridegroom finds his bride, raises her to his side, allows her to lean upon him, holds secret, soul-sustaining communion with her, and conducts her to the promised land.

“I will speak to her heart.”

He speaks a divorce from all creatures — that we may enjoy union to, and find happiness in himself alone.

He calls us away from centering in self — to fix our faith and affections on himself.

He speaks, so as to prevail with us to leave all others, and give ourselves up . . .
to be ruled by his will,
to feed at his table, and
to be satisfied with his goodness.

He speaks comfort, and speaks comfortably to us. By a Barnabas, or by the Comforter — he speaks, and, brings home a word of promise to the heart. This encourages faith, emboldens hope, and persuades the soul to close in with Christ. Or some sweet word flows into the mind, assuring us that he . . .
has pardoned our sins,
will take us as his own,
will guide us by his counsel, and
afterwards receive us to glory.

Reader, has the Lord ever allured you, and drawn you away into a wilderness, revealing himself to you? Has he ever spoken to your heart, words of peace and love? Jesus spoke to the heart of the poor woman, when he said, “Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven,” and to the poor man, when he said, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” Such pleasant words are as a honeycomb — sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Such good words will make the heart glad.

We must be weaned from the world, from the creatures, and be brought into secret, heart-affecting, soul transforming communion with God. We must therefore find the world a wilderness, a desert, a land of drought. We must turn from man to God, and in God as revealed in Jesus, find a friend that loves at all times, and be able to say, with the apostle, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The Gift

When the Lord has allured, and drawn his people away from all other to himself, when they have found it good to be alone with God, and when he has comforted their hearts — then he bestows upon them great and precious blessings. Thus the prophet represented the Lord as speaking, “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) — a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of he youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” Hosea. 2:15.

I will give her back her vineyards.” I will not only speak — but give. Vineyards were valuable property, delightful possessions; so the Lord will not only give enough for our subsistence — but abundance. Not only tastes of Canaan — but Canaan itself. That is, all the privileges and comforts of the gospel, which are like these gifts, proofs of reconciliation, and fruits of love. I will give her back her vineyards from thence. From that time, when I have brought her to be mine, only mine. From that place, the wilderness — where all was barren and unpromising. From that condition of loneliness and isolation. Vineyards from wildernesses.

“I will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) — a door of hope.” This valley was naturally pleasant and secure. It took its name from Achor, who by his covetousness and theft, here troubled Israel. It means the valley of trouble, and this, says the Lord, shall be a door of hope. Trouble is often the means of good. Sanctified trouble always ends well. Achor was the first part of Canaan, which Israel possessed; trouble accompanied their entrance into the land. So often trouble attends the first joys of salvation; our first entrance into promised rest. But at the end of afflictions, stands the door of hope.

This door lets out our desires to God, and lets in covenant mercies from God. It keeps out many and great evils — as gloom, despondency, and despair. And it lets out God’s saints into liberty, peace, union, possessions, and honors. In Joseph’s prison — was a door of hope, through which he passed to be lord over all the land of Egypt. In Daniel’s den of lions — was a door of hope which admitted him to the highest place in the kingdom. In the experience of David, many and varied as his troubles and afflictions were, there was a door of hope, which introduced him to the promised throne, and made him king over all Israel. So in your experience, believer, you have always found a door of hope at the end of your conflicts, trials, and troubles, through which, when you least expected it, you passed into the enjoyment of peace and liberty.

Our present mercies, are doors to admit us to new and greater mercies. The door may appear shut, all may seem dark and distressing — but Jesus carries the key, and will open the door, and introduce us to deliverance, just at the best moment. His key will open the most difficult lock with ease, and throw open the strongest door at his pleasure.

The Lord will not only give us vineyards, and set before us a door of hope — but he will give us mirth; “There she will sing.”

Sing, where? At the door of hope, in the vineyards he gives us.

Sing, why? On account of our obtaining our freedom, and such glorious possessions.”

Sing, how? As Israel did at the Red Sea, when Miriam took a timbrel, and all the women went after her in dances, singing, “Sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.”

Sing, for what? For wonders wrought, for faithfulness proved, for obedience crowned.

She shall be humbled there, as rich displays of grace always humble us. She shall answer there, as the people of old did saying, “All that the Lord has spoken to us — will we do.” Signal deliverances lead to cheerful and prompt obedience.

Observe, believer, Our songs are generally preceded by sorrow. We sigh in the valley — before we sing on the mountain. Our groans are heard in the glen, before our anthems ascend from the rock. The Lord’s people shall be enriched and happy. They may be poor enough for a time, and their sorrow may be great — but vineyards and songs, will be theirs before long.

Observe, inward joys should be expressed. If the Lord renders us happy — we should gratefully show it. The Lord loves to hear us praise him. The grateful Christian, will never be long at a loss for matter for a song. New mercies should remind us of former ones. Every new deliverance, should lead our thoughts back to our first and great deliverance: and from thence we should draw the conclusion of the apostle, “He who has delivered, does deliver, and in him I trust that he will yet deliver me.”

If we have received a vineyard as our marriage dowry — we shall soon enter upon the possession of the glorious inheritance. If we sing the songs of deliverance in these lowlands now — we shall soon shout from the heights of Zion. If we enter the door of hope into the enjoyment of grace — we shall assuredly pass through the door of hope again, into the enjoyment of glory.

The Relationship

The Lord having allured his people, brought them away from all others, to feel alone with himself; having turned the shadow of death into morning, and given the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and put a new song into their mouths; God then takes them into the closest possible union with himself, and indulges them with the sweetest views of his love. Hence we read, “It shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call me Ishi, and shall call me no more Baali.” Hosea 2:16.

There is a difference in the terms, though there is some similarity. Sarah called Abraham, “Baali, my Lord,” though he was her husband, manifesting profound reverence as well as tender affection. “Baali,” signifies, “my Lord,” and conveys the idea of owner, and patron — implying inferiority, rule, subjection, and fear.

“Ishi,” signifies “my man,” signifying my husband, my strength, my protector — and implying, love, familiarity, and boldness. The contrast, therefore, is between lordly and loving.

“Baali,” had become ambiguous, being applied to idols as well as Jehovah; and it befit the servant, better than the bride; therefore it must be dispensed with. But there are still some dry professors, some backsliders, and some who live at a distance from God, who prefer “Baali,” to “Ishi;” they prefer . . .
distance to nearness,
reserve to familiarity, and
doubt to assurance.

But the Lord would have us know and enjoy his love to us; and see us come boldly to his throne, and feel confidence in his presence.

The relationship indicated, is the marriage relationship. It is the Lord saying, “I am married unto you!” “Your Maker is your husband, the Lord almighty is his name, and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called.” It indicates, that we are God’s portion — and that he is ours! That he has chosen us for his own — set his heart and his love upon us — and has brought us into nearness and union with himself — giving us a sweet assurance of his love, so that we can say, “My beloved is mine — and I am his!”

Not only so — but he brings us into a state of positive dependence upon him; so that as the wife, who brings no portion with her, is dependent upon her husband for all — so we must look to the Lord for all, and trust in him alone.

But we must not omit to observe, that the relation into which the Lord brings us is permanent and perpetual. He takes us as we are, and knowing all about us, to be his own, and his own forever; and we take him to be ours, and ours forever. He says, “I will be for you, and you shall be for me,” and the union is formed for eternity, the relationship is entered into forever.

The privileges flowing out of this relationship, are many, and very great. “You shall call me Ishi, my husband.” This intends that we shall acknowledge and treat him as such. We are to look to him . . .
for counsel, in all our difficulties and perplexities;
for comfort in all seasons of sadness and sorrow;
for sympathy in all our sufferings and trials; and
for our maintenance, both as creatures and Christians.

We are to expect from him . . .
all that the wisest head can devise,
all that the kindest heart bestow,
all that the most experienced hand can perform,
all that the most eloquent tongue can express
all that the wealth of God can procure!

“You shall call me Ishi,” that is —
you shall serve me from love, rather than fear;
you shall make me the object of confidence, rather than of dread;
you shall receive the spirit of adoption, rather than the spirit of bondage.

O what a privilege to be thus related to God, to be one with God! To be delivered from all terror, alarm, and dismay — and enjoy peace, confidence, and courage, in our approaches to him, and dealings with him. Blessed be God, for alluring us, and drawing us out of the world! Blessed be God, for our afflictions and trials! Blessed be God, for all the gifts of his grace. Blessed be God, for taking us into union with himself, in the person of his beloved Son!

Observe, God would have us look to him with love and delight — not with fear and dread. Think of this, lost sinner. Think of this, poor legalist. God does not want our works, or our sufferings — but our persons, and our love. He wishes us to think kindly of him, and to set our love upon him. We should view God in Christ, as . . .
our portion,
our strength,
our husband.

And as our portion — we should live upon him,
as our strength — we should lean upon him, and
as our husband — we should abide in his presence, and enjoy constant fellowship and communion with him.

He will cleanse his people from all their idols, and take the name of Baali out of their mouth. Yes, every idol must fall, and Jesus must become the object of our supreme love, confidence, and adoration.

Let us, then, admire the love, tenderness, and condescension of our God — let us submit to all his discipline and dispensations, with meekness and humility — and let us seek grace, that realizing our union with him, we may walk before him as befits the objects of his highest love and sovereign grace. Let us be willing . . .
to be weaned from all others,
to endure the afflictions appointed for our good, and
to be shut up to God in Christ, for all our comfort, peace, and joy.

Gracious God, let us often experience your alluring influence — let us often find ourselves alone with you — let us in every trouble look unto the door of hope — let us often sing of your delivering mercy and grace — and let us realize that we are one with you, and that you are one with us, so that in all our approaches to you, and dealings with you — we may exercise love, confidence, and joy!

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Answered Prayer


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I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;

But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.

I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;

But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.

I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;

But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and Perfect peace I knew.

I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;

Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.
–Annie Johnson Flint

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The light of a new morning


 Lamentations 3:22-24

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

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The word of God says a new day brings new mercies. I think about that a lot on my morning walks before work. Just looking at things in the light of a new day often brings an entirely new perspective. Depending on the weather and the light, things take on new hues and subtle changes. Delicate flowers explode with color and beauty in the noon day sun, but even weeds have a certain shimmer in the first sprinkles of early morning dew and a new days awakening sunlight. I like to hike and take photographs and in order to capture God’s creation you need to notice certain things. I think there is hidden beauty in things often overlooked and my life is a lot like that sometimes. If I am not careful, and focus on earthly troubles my mind is no longer at peace and trusting in God’s promises. I can easily forget that my worries and cares, even afflictions are part of the school of Christ…only leading me to my eternal home and rest in Jesus.

James Meikle wrote in Solitude Sweetened

“Again, in the dark night of adversity, there are beauties seen, that were never seen in the broad day of prosperity. Manasseh, all the time he reigned in Judah, though it was a land of light, never knew God until he was taken among the thorns, bound in fetters, and carried to Babylon, where he prayed, was heard, pardoned, and liberated; and “then Manasseh knew that the Lord, he was God.” Thus, in the depths of affliction, he learned maxims more sublime, and of higher consequence, than he could attain to when seated on a throne. O desirable distress! that discloses and magnifies heavenly excellences, and diminishes earthly vanities!”

“From the depth of afflictions we see stupendous things”.

These are lessons I need to learn to find joy and comfort in. Let me leave you with some encouragement from God’s word that we can stand on no matter our circumstances today.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 11:28-29

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Isaiah 40:29-31

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Romans 8:37-39

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Proverbs 1:33

But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”

John 14:27

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

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Glorify God in the fire


candle

(George Whitefield, “Glorify God in the Fire!”)

“Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit!” John 15:2

“I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!” Isaiah 48:10

Fire not only burns and purges, but it separates one thing from another.

God Almighty knows that we are often purged more in one hour by a good sound trial–than by a thousand manifestations of His love. It is a fine thing to come purified, to come pardoned out of the furnace of affliction. The furnace is intended to purge us to separate the precious from the vile, the chaff from the wheat. And God, in order to do this, is pleased to put us into one fire after another.

There are some roads which are finely paved and smooth–but the King’s road to Heaven is strewed with crosses and afflictions!

My brethren, we need to be purged! How apt are we to want to go to Heaven upon a featherbed. But many go lying upon beds of pain and languishing, which is the King’s highway there.

God will not put us into the fire–if there was not something to be purged away. The grand thing, is to learn to glorify God in the fire.

We glorify God in the fire, when we quietly endure it as a chastisement, and when we bear it patiently. It is a dreadful thing when we are saying with Cain, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!” But the language of a soul that glorifies God in the fire is this, “Shall I, Lord, shall I a sinful man, complain for the punishment of my sins?”

We glorify God in the fire, when, though we feel pain and anguish, we at the same time say, “Lord, we deserve this and ten thousands times more!”

We glorify God in the fire also, when we are really and fully persuaded that God will put us in the furnace only for our good, and His own glory.

We glorify God in the fire when we say, “Lord don’t let the fire go out until it has purged away all my dross!”

We glorify God in the fire when the soul can say, “Here I am, my God, do with me as seems good in Your sight! I know that I shall not have one unnecessary stroke!”

We glorify God in the fire when we are not grumbling, but humbly submitting to His will. When that awful message was brought to Eli, what does he say? “It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him.” Let my children be killed, whatever is done, it is the Lord’s doing!

We glorify God in the fire when we rejoice in Him–when we can thank God for striking us–when we can thank Him for whipping us!

Happy are you who have got into Christ’s fire!

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For the child of God death is gain


And the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive – forever and ever – and I hold the keys of death and of Hades! (Rev 1:18)

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The death of a Christian is the fruition of his life’s hope. For the lost it’s the worst thing possible, it’s hopeless futility or a shaky belief based on stories of an afterlife dreamed up from bad literature, vain imaginings and cheesy television programs. The devil loves to pervert the idea of heaven and hell and sadly millions will find out the truth they ignored with no hope in the end of a better option. This is something I have been reading and thinking about lately and I have seen beautiful examples of courageous, God honoring death and sad stories with so much pain and loss it’s almost impossible to bear. The past few weeks Pastor Scott Bandy of Twin City Bible Church in Nitro, West Virginia has handled this subject in two sermons that I have linked to below. I also linked to the blog of Kara Tippets, a young Mom and Pastor’s wife who passed away recently from a difficult, but grace filled battle with cancer.

This is not an easy subject to talk about, but it’s an experience we are all guaranteed. There is so much hope and joy in the life of a Christian, and that life is eternal. Those promises are everlasting….every flower fades but the Rose of Sharon, Jesus Christ died so that His followers live on in peace forever. Those promises transcend, pain, death and suffering. If you are a believer be encouraged by the hope you have in heaven, and if you do not know the Lord please do as the Philippian jailer when he asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Paul and Silas responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Sermons by Pastor Scott Bandy:
Death for God’s glory
 
Flower! Easter lilies! Speak to me this morning the same dear old lesson of immortality which you have been speaking to so many sorrowing souls.
Wise old Book! let me read again in your pages of firm assurance that to die is gain.
Poets! recite to me your verses which repeat in every line the Gospel of eternal life.
Singers! break forth once more into songs of joy; let me hear again the well-known resurrection psalms.
Tree and blossom and bird and sea and sky and wind whisper it, sound it afresh, warble it, echo it, let it throb and pulsate through every atom and particle; let the air be filled with it.
Let it be told and retold and still retold until hope rises to conviction, and conviction to certitude of knowledge; until we, like Paul, even though going to our death, go with triumphant mien, with assured faith, and with serene and shining face.

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Yet I will trust Him


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Though he slay me, yet will I trust him (Job 13:15).

For I know whom I have believed (2 Tim. 1:12).

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
‘I trust in Thee.’

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses.
I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
‘I do not doubt,’ so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.

“In fierce storms,” said an old seaman, “we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.” This, Christian, is what you must do.

Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way. Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.

You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may–winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers–no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus.
–Richard Fuller

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YESTERDAY’S GRIEF


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The rain that fell a-yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday is silence that incloses
Holy loves when time and change shall never trouble them.

The rain that fell a-yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday has taught the soul to listen
For whispers of eternity in all the winds that pass.

O faint-of-heart, storm-beaten, this rain will gleam tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow now be sorrow,
Yet sorrow shall be, beauty in the magic of the morn.
–Katherine Lee Bates

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